When I was a little kiddie and went to Sunday school we glued pasta to empty tomato-sauce cans and spray-painted them gold (or was it silver?). Maybe they were supposed to be chalices or something. I forget the religious import. True, the world’s richest artist is using better materials — dead butterflies no less — and has a squadron of assistants to execute his product for him, but I fear oversized coasters are conceptually on par with macaroni goblets.
They are supposed to be mandalas, which I guess anything circular could be, so there’s that hint that there must be something deep and spiritual to fathom about them. This one’s called “Deity”?
But, uh, people often put concentric circles on tiles and coasters without thinking it’s a grand meditation on death and transcendence.
No, really, look at these Teivio Coasters for Drinks, available at Sears:
And these BOHORIA® Premium Design Coasters (Set of 6) aren’t bad either.
And that’s all I’m getting from Hirst’s new show. It’s hardly even design, because the concentric rings don’t allow anything else, and the size of the butterflies determines thickness. We are left with choice of color, and deciding which row to make which thickness, though they seem to mostly go from smallest to biggest. But, that level of aesthetic decision has to be made for any of thousands of mandala coasters out there in the world.
And how about these sombreros?
The thing we all learned about conceptual art is that the crystalline brilliance of the idea is paramount. True, just because Hirst is thought of as a conceptual artist doesn’t mean anything and everything he does is conceptual art, but that’s the only way to elevate his mandala coasters into high art.
So, what’s the grand idea? Hirst likes to say his work is about death, but it’s more about inflicting it on insects, fish, and small animals than grappling with the human condition so far. The butterflies are dead, but that just tells us they are expendable and merely pretty, pigmented things. It doesn’t make me think about my mortality, or Damien’s.
Making it bigger, or out of butterflies, doesn’t make it NOT craft.
Everyone knows Hirst outsources the manufacture of his art, but why not go a step further and hire people to come up with art ideas for him (rather than borrowing and stealing them)?
If you don’t have to make your own art, who says you have to come up with it either? This isn’t his first show with butterflies, not butterflies mounted on circular panels. Clearly, he’s shooting blanks.
The non-existent spiritual or existential content aside, I’m not registering any ideas at all, profound or shallow. Seems like he tried to WOW the billionaire class with stunning objects, but ended up with a cheesy Sunday school craft project.
And to think the grandfather of conceptual art himself, Marcel “The Dud” Duchamp, was rebelling against what he perceived as visual art (especially that of the Impressionists) having become merely retinal.